Mixed martial arts (MMA), holds events under the organization called the Ultimate Fighting Championship. These fights are no-holds barred types of “sanctioned combat”, but there are still judges that score these matches to determine a winner. There has been, for quite some times, large screens that allowed the judges better views, but due to the nature of the fighting cages, there are certain blind spots the judges have difficulty seeing around, and thus could alter the score and outcome of a match.
On Friday, May 20th, the Nevada State Athletic Commission, in a unanimous ruling of 5-0, decided that a petition for 7-inch screens that would provide a viewpoint for the judges to these previously blind spots was passed. The ruling goes into effect immediately, starting with the light-heavyweight fight on Saturday, May 28 at the UFC event between “Rampage” Jackson and Matt Hamill in Las Vegas. These cameras, which will be mounted on movable “arms” will be available for all UFC fights that take place in the state of Nevada from here on out.
Though this camera system has only been previously used in 3 UFC events, which took place in California, Vancouver, and Pennsylvania, many think this is a great way to ensure proper scoring of these events. Judges will know have a truly full view of all areas of the fighting arena, which means that scoring will be more on point and accurate. There will be no obstructed views that judges have to try to see around.
These screens will not be mandatory, meaning that judges can choose not to use them. Being attached to movable arms, they can easily be moved out of the way. The small size of the screen means the screen, in and of itself, will not be a distraction. The screens will be live during the action only. The screens also black out between rounds. There is also no replay function, which means the judges will not be using these screens to review the action, they are merely a tool to help provide for more consistent and accurate scoring during the entirety of the fight. These screens are also not equipped with audio, as they aren’t meant to do anything more than allow the judge a fuller view of the fighting arena.
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While this is a fairly new change, it seems that it will make the overall scoring of MMA matches a lot easier and more consistent. It does not present a challenge to the judges or the fighters. And the fact that these cameras are optional, and not required, seems to me that it is a tool of choice, if the judges choose to utilize them. I think we should all be for more transparency – but not more complication – in the scoring of these fights, and these screens are a good step in that direction.